Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a Turkey-Africa business forum in Istanbul, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)
Turkey’s president increased his pressure on Saudi Arabia over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, local media reported yesterday, while US President Donald Trump expressed reservations over withholding American arms sales over the writer.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s comments appear aimed at slowly intensifying the criticism while balancing the need to maintain the kingdom’s investments in Turkey and relations on other issues.

Trump’s remarks, on the other hand, came as prominent American lawmakers increasingly criticise Saudi Arabia - America’s long-time security ally in the region.

Turkish officials fear Khashoggi was killed by the Saudis after walking into the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2, though they haven’t offered any evidence to support that.

The kingdom calls the allegation “baseless”, but has not offered any evidence to explain why Khashoggi simply walked out of the consulate and disappeared while his fiancée waited outside for him.

Erdogan was quoted by Turkish media yesterday as telling journalists flying with him back home from a visit to Hungary that “we cannot remain silent to such an incident”.

“How is it possible for a consulate not to have security camera systems? Is it possible for the Saudi Arabian consulate where the incident occurred not to have camera systems?” Erdogan asked.

“If a bird flew, if a mosquito appeared, these systems would catch them and (I believe) the Saudis would have the most advanced of systems.”

Meanwhile, Trump told reporters he had scheduled a call to Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, who has appealed to the president for help.

Trump said he had spoken to the Saudis about what he called a “bad situation,” but he did not disclose details of his conversations. He also said the US was working “very closely” with Turkey, “and I think we’ll get to the bottom of it”.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said national security adviser John Bolton and presidential senior adviser Jared Kushner spoke to Crown Prince Mohammed on Tuesday about Khashoggi.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo then had a follow-up call with the crown prince to reiterate the request for information and a thorough, transparent investigation.

In an interview later Wednesday with Fox News @ Night, Trump said he wanted to find out what had happened to Khashoggi but appeared reluctant to consider blocking arms sales, citing economic reasons.

“I think that would be hurting us,” Trump said. AP